What is the Monitoring Enterprise?
The MPA Monitoring Enterprise was established to lead development of efficient, cost-effective monitoring of MPAs established under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). We are housed within the California Ocean Science Trust
, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization established pursuant to the Coastal Ocean Resources Stewardship Act of 2000 to provide scientific guidance to the state on ocean policy issues.
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What does the Monitoring Enterprise do?
The Monitoring Enterprise leads the design and implementation of MPA monitoring that meets Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) requirements. We focus on all stages of MPA monitoring: planning MPA monitoring, implementing monitoring, analyzing monitoring data, reporting monitoring results and updating monitoring plans as needed. We work closely with the Department of Fish and Game in all aspects of our work. We also consult with scientists and stakeholders to ensure monitoring and reporting are responsive to management needs, based on the best available science and reflective of public priorities. We do not collect monitoring data, but instead work in partnership with researchers, citizen scientists and others who do. As monitoring data become available, we will ensure that the data, analyses and results are publicly available. We are not involved with MPA planning or adoption, nor do we make MPA management recommendations. For more information, please see Our Role
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Where does the Monitoring Enterprise work?
We work primarily in the five regions of California's coastal waters that have been established for the purposes of MPA planning and adoption under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA): the North Coast, North Central Coast, San Francisco Bay, Central Coast and South Coast regions. We begin our work after MPA planning for a region has been completed. For more information about the MLPA regions and our work in each, please see Where We Work
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What is the role of an MPA monitoring plan?
The monitoring plans developed by the Monitoring Enterprise, in collaboration with the Department of Fish and Game, provide a scientific framework and approach for MPA monitoring in the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) regions, along with options and recommendations to guide the implementation both of MPA baseline programs and long-term MPA monitoring in each region.
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Who are the intended audiences for the MPA monitoring plans?
The MPA monitoring plans are developed to provide guidance to the Department of Fish and Game, the agency with statutory authority for implementing the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), and for the Fish and Game Commission, the decision-making entity designated under MLPA. Other key audiences include MPA stakeholders, existing and potential MPA monitoring partners and existing and potential funders of MPA monitoring.
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How and when will each MPA monitoring plan be implemented?
The approach and framework forming the core of each monitoring plan are implemented initially though an MPA Baseline Program in each region. Long-term monitoring will follow and build on the foundation established by the Baseline Programs, and will be implemented when resources become available. Monitoring has been designed to make efficient use of available resources through cooperative efforts and partnerships.
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Who will oversee and manage MPA monitoring?
Under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has statutory authority for implementing MPAs. DFG has an existing infrastructure in place within its Marine Region's MPA Project that will be a source for the oversight and management of MPA monitoring. Additionally, through partnerships DFG can augment its existing resources for MPA monitoring.
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What is the MPA monitoring framework?
The MPA monitoring framework developed by the Monitoring Enterprise guides the design of monitoring that will meet Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) requirements.
The framework takes an ecosystem-based approach to encompass the broad range of the MLPA goals. A small number of Ecosystem Features, selected in consultation with stakeholders and scientists to collectively represent and encompass the marine ecosystems and human uses in an MLPA region, provide the overarching structure for MPA monitoring and the top level of the framework. The framework has two core elements: Assessing Ecosystem Condition & Trends; and Evaluating MPA Design & Management Decisions. A schematic diagram of the MPA monitoring framework
is available. A more detailed explanation of the two core elements is provided in the next question.
The framework is designed to allow tailoring of monitoring to reflect the unique aspects of each region while ensuring that monitoring is sufficiently consistent to allow comparisons of MPA effects and performance between regions and across the state (once the full statewide MPA network has been completed).
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What are the core elements of MPA monitoring?
The MPA monitoring framework is organized around Ecosystem Features, which are selected in consultation with stakeholders and scientists to collectively represent and encompass the marine ecosystems and human uses in an MLPA region. The Ecosystem Features provide the top level of the monitoring framework, which includes two core elements: Assessing Ecosystem Condition & Trends; and Evaluating MPA Design & Management Decisions.
Assessment of ecosystem condition and trends will be used to track the state of marine ecosystems, including human activities, in the South Coast region, and how they change over time inside and outside the MPAs. Evaluations of specific MPA design and management decisions, such as MPA size and spacing, will examine the effects of these decisions on Ecosystem Features or ecosystem components. Collectively, these monitoring elements will provide information to assess progress in achieving MLPA goals, and support future adaptive management decisions.
Each core element is designed to be adaptable to best fit with available resources and capacity at the time it is implemented. For example, two options have been included for monitoring ecosystem condition through time: Ecosystem Feature Checkups are designed to be implemented through partnerships with citizen-science groups and community organizations, while Ecosystem Feature Assessments are designed to take advantage of technically robust monitoring partnerships such as among state and federal agencies and with federal agencies and research institutions.
In order to correctly interpret monitoring results from these two core elements, it will be important to consider other types of information, referred to as contextual information. This includes, for example, oceanographic, water quality, and economic information. Linkages and information exchanges with programs collecting contextual data are explicitly provided for in each plan.
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Do the MPA monitoring plans include monitoring of MPA enforcement and compliance?
No, not directly. However, information about MPA compliance will be essential for correctly interpreting MPA monitoring results. MPA enforcement and compliance monitoring are the responsibility of the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and will be conducted by DFG and its partners. All available compliance information will be used during analysis and interpretation of monitoring results.
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Do the MPA monitoring plans include fisheries monitoring as part of MPA monitoring?
Yes. Fisheries monitoring is required to assess the effectiveness of the MPAs and to meet the requirements of the MLPA.
The MPA monitoring plans incorporate monitoring of socioeconomic and ecological aspects of consumptive human activities, including commercial and recreational fishing. For example, monitoring plans include monitoring of the spatial distribution, landings, catch per unit effort (CPUE) and economic value of commercial and recreational fisheries, focusing on economically and ecologically important species in each region. This information can be obtained through use of existing fisheries data as well as collection of new data at the spatial resolution necessary to detect potential MPA effects. In addition, monitoring of ecological characteristics, such as density and size structure, of selected fishery species is also included. MPA monitoring thus overlaps with but does not encompass all monitoring required for fisheries management purposes.
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Will information collected through MPA monitoring inform fisheries management?
Yes. MPA monitoring metrics have been chosen to benefit fisheries management as much as possible without compromising the ability to meet MLPA requirements. For example, many of the focal species selected for MPA monitoring are fished species, including some unassessed species. Both MPA Baseline Programs and long-term MPA monitoring will collect ecological data, including abundances and size distributions of important fishery species, as well as socioeconomic data, such as the status of and changes in commercial and recreational fisheries, that can inform fisheries management. However, MPA monitoring is not intended to be sufficient to support fisheries management.
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Do the MPA monitoring plans consider water quality?
Yes. Some species that are sensitive to water quality changes are included in the MPA monitoring plans. Direct measurement of pollutant or contaminant levels and other more comprehensive water quality monitoring is beyond the scope of MPA monitoring. However, water quality information will be essential for correctly interpreting MPA monitoring results. Linkages with water quality monitoring programs in an MLPA region are provided for in the MPA monitoring plans to ensure exchange of information and inform interpretation of MPA monitoring data.
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Do the MPA monitoring plans consider climate change?
Yes. Some species that are expected to be sensitive to possible effects of climate change (e.g., changes in sea surface temperatures or ocean acidification) are included in the MPA monitoring plans. Direct monitoring of possible climate change effects, such as ocean acidification and changes in the strength or timing of upwelling events, is beyond the scope of MPA monitoring. However, such information will be important for correctly interpreting MPA monitoring results, and available information will be used during the analysis of monitoring data.
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Do the MPA monitoring plans consider the dynamic nature of marine ecosystems?
Yes. The monitoring plans recognize the natural spatial and temporal variation in ecosystems and ecosystem components, and this has been considered in the design of monitoring and the selection of monitoring metrics. Collection and analysis of time series data will be essential to reveal trajectories of ecosystem change inside and outside MPAs, and to assess potential MPA effects in a naturally variable system. In addition, analysis and interpretation of monitoring data will take into account contextual information on oceanographic conditions and trends.
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How many MPAs will be monitored and how often?
The number of MPAs that will be monitored and the frequency of monitoring will depend on available resources, management priorities at the time of monitoring implementation and the specific monitoring methods employed.
Each Baseline Program encompasses as many MPAs as possible to provide a robust foundation to inform and support long-term monitoring. For long-term monitoring, specific MPAs to be monitored will be selected when long-term monitoring is implemented in each region.
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Will monitoring occur inside and outside MPAs?
Yes. Assessing the effectiveness of MPAs requires monitoring to be conducted both inside and outside MPAs.
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What is the cost of MPA monitoring?
The monitoring framework and approach are designed to be scalable to fit available resources, and to be cost-efficient through development of monitoring partnerships, all while meeting MLPA requirements.
The Ocean Protection Council has, to date, authorized approximately $16,000,000 to help support MPA baseline programs, providing approximately $4,000,000 for each of the North Coast, North Central Coast, Central Coast, and South Coast regions. Baseline program monitoring is augmented through matching funds and other cost-sharing arrangements, which are required of all funded projects.
The monitoring plans developed by the Monitoring Enterprise provide example spending plans that illustrate how resources may be allocated under different hypothetical budget scenarios to implement monitoring that meets MLPA requirements.
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What is the purpose of the North Coast MPA Monitoring Plan?
The North Coast MPA Monitoring Plan will provide recommendations for ‘taking the pulse’ of North Coast marine ecosystems and local economies over the long term, guiding the evaluation of MPA design effectiveness and informing future management decisions. This regionally-informed plan will also provide options and recommendations for building a cost-effective, long-term monitoring program that builds upon an initial North Coast MPA Baseline Program (for more information about the Baseline Program, please see the FAQ below).
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How will the North Coast MPA Monitoring Plan be developed?
The Monitoring Enterprise is leading the development and implementation of the North Coast MPA Monitoring Plan in collaboration with the Department of Fish and Game and in partnership with the North Coast community. As a first step, the Monitoring Enterprise invites the North Coast community, including tribal governments, scientists and local experts, resource managers, and local decision-makers to join in a series of informal community gatherings. Our goal is to share information about the Monitoring Enterprise and our work in the North Coast, learn more about regional monitoring interests and priorities, and begin building relationships with the North Coast community. Throughout the fall and winter, we will continue to work with North Coast communities to apply the MPA monitoring framework to the region and develop key questions and metrics that appropriately reflect the regional MPA network and the unique characteristics of the North Coast. A draft North Coast MPA Monitoring Plan will be released for community comment in spring 2013. Following revision in response to comments received, the draft plan will be presented for consideration by the California Fish and Game Commission.
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What is the North Coast MPA Baseline Program?
The Baseline Program is the first step in MPA monitoring. It will establish a baseline – or benchmark – of the ecological and socioeconomic conditions when the regional MPA network takes effect and will document any initial socioeconomic and ecological changes in the region in the first few years following MPA implementation. Reflecting regional priorities, this program will provide information that will improve our understanding of the health of North Coast marine ecosystems and local economies, inform management decisions and guide on-going MPA monitoring. The North Coast MPA Baseline Program will be comprised of projects selected through a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The North Coast MPA Baseline Program is a collaboration of the MPA Monitoring Enterprise within the California Ocean Science Trust, California Department of Fish and Game, California Sea Grant and the California Ocean Protection Council.
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What is the role of the North Coast Community Liaisons?
The California Ocean Science Trust is building a small team of North Coast community liaisons to support the development of a scientifically rigorous and collaborative North Coast MPA Baseline Program. Liaisons will work with us and our partners to provide information about the Baseline Program to North Coast community members, gather and share information about North Coast community interests and priorities to inform the development of the Baseline Program, and assist us in convening workshops and discussions to solicit input into the Baseline Program Request for Proposals (RFP).
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How will the results of the North Coast MPA Baseline Program be used?
The Baseline Program is the first step in MPA monitoring on the North Coast, focusing on establishing an ecological and socioeconomic benchmark against which future MPA performance can be measured and highlighting any initial changes following MPA implementation. Results from the Baseline Program will be shared in advance of the recommended 5-year management review of the regional MPA network. These results will also guide the launch of collaborative, efficient and cost-effective ongoing MPA monitoring following the completion of the Baseline Program.
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North Central Coast
How was the North Central Coast MPA monitoring plan developed?
The Monitoring Enterprise, in collaboration with the Department of Fish and Game, developed the North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan through a consultative process that began shortly after the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force transmitted its recommendation for the North Central Coast regional MPA network to the Fish and Game Commission on June 11, 2008. (The Commission adopted the North Central Coast MPAs on August 5, 2008.) In July 2008, the Monitoring Enterprise began conversations with members of the former MLPA North Central Coast Regional Stakeholder Group (NCCRSG) to gather initial information about stakeholder perspectives on monitoring MPAs in the region. To ensure the monitoring plan would reflect the science used to guide design of the North Central Coast MPAs, we also engaged members of the former North Central Coast Science Advisory Team (NCCSAT).
On October 22–23, 2008, we held a workshop with members of the former NCCRSG and NCCSAT, as well as additional scientists, to identify preliminary priorities for monitoring. Over the next several months, we analyzed and refined these priorities and worked with former NCCSAT members and other scientists to develop a preliminary, scientific monitoring framework to address the priorities in a cohesive and efficient way. On March 11–12, 2009, we held a second workshop with many of the same participants to present the preliminary framework and draft monitoring metrics. The framework was revised to reflect comments received and then sent to 18 scientists from California, elsewhere in the US, and other countries, who had been little involved or not involved at all in our previous discussions and workshops, in order to obtain additional technical comments on the overall approach and specific monitoring metrics.
The monitoring framework and draft monitoring metrics were further revised following receipt of the additional technical comments, and then compiled into a draft North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan, which was released for broad public input. The revised plan was submitted to the California Fish and Game Commission and adopted on April 7, 2010 for inclusion in the MLPA Master Plan, thus formally incorporating it into the policy guiding MLPA implementation. For more information on the development of the plan, please visit our North Central Coast
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Is the North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan related to the North Central Coast MPA Baseline Program?
Yes. The Monitoring Plan describes the approach and framework for monitoring that underpin both the Baseline Program and long-term monitoring. Long-term monitoring will build on the foundation of information and knowledge developed through the Baseline Program, which began in 2010 and will continue through 2013. The Baseline Program was developed to address the most time-sensitive aspects of MPA monitoring, specifically: (1) characterization of the ecology and socioeconomics of the North Central Coast region at or near the time of MPA implementation; and (2) measurement of initial changes after MPAs take effect. Findings from the Baseline Program will be used to refine the long-term monitoring metrics and inform implementation of long-term monitoring.
The Ocean Protection Council authorized $4,000,000 to support the North Central Coast MPA Baseline Program. A Request for Proposals (RFP) to implement the program was released by California Sea Grant in July, 2009. Proposals received in response to the RFP were subjected to rigorous review of their scientific and technical merits, alignment with the purposes of the Baseline Program, and cost. Eleven projects were selected for funding.
For more information on the Baseline Program, please see the North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan
. More information on the North Central Coast baseline projects is available on the California Sea Grant
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What is the cost of MPA monitoring in the North Central Coast?
For baseline monitoring, the Ocean Protection Council provided $4,000,000 to help support collection and analysis of baseline data. For long-term monitoring, the North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan includes two example MPA monitoring spending plans, reflecting two hypothetical regional MPA monitoring budget scenarios of $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 annually. These budget scenarios are for illustration purposes only. The spending plans are based on costs of MPA monitoring and related activities currently occurring in California, adjusted and augmented as needed to implement monitoring in the North Central Coast region that will meet Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) requirements. The spending plans include the costs of collecting, analyzing, and reporting monitoring results and assume leveraging of resources consistent with existing programs and partnerships. They do not reflect all possible costs of monitoring implementation (for example, Department of Fish and Game staff costs are not included). However, the spending plans include the majority of anticipated new costs of long-term MPA monitoring in the North Central Coast region, tailored to take best advantage of the two hypothetical budget scenarios. Either spending plan would enable assessment of the effectiveness of the regional MPA network in meeting MLPA goals and would facilitate adaptive MPA management, as required by the MLPA. For more information, please see the North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan
or the North Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan—In Brief
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When were MPAs in the Central Coast implemented?
On April 13, 2007, the Fish and Game Commission adopted 29 MPAs in the Central Coast region, and MPA regulations took effect on September 22, 2007. The Central Coast region, which includes all state waters along the California coastline from Pigeon Point to Point Conception, was the first to complete the Marine Life Protection Act
(MLPA) planning and implementation process. The MLPA Master Plan, which guides MPA adoption and implementation, recommends that regional MPA networks be evaluated every five years to facilitate adaptive management. As the Central Coast MPAs' five-year anniversary occurs in 2012, we are working closely with the Department of Fish and Game
and the Fish and Game Commission staff
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Did MPA monitoring occur following Central Coast MPA implementation?
Yes! With support from the Ocean Protection Council, and in collaboration with the Department of Fish and Game, Coastal Conservancy and California Sea Grant, five projects
were funded to collect baseline data from 2007-08. Baseline MPA monitoring included surveys of kelp forests, rocky shores, deep reefs, nearshore fishes and socioeconomic use patterns to provide us with a snapshot of ocean conditions at the time of MPA implementation, and information about short-term economic impacts. The data collected by these projects are now being analyzed and results will be available in early 2013. BACK TO TOP
What is the first step of the Central Coast Ongoing MPA Monitoring Program?
In the first step of the Central Coast MPA Monitoring Program, the Program Partners are working to update the Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan to reflect the results of Central Coast baseline monitoring, apply the MPA monitoring framework, and ensure consistency with existing monitoring plans for North Central Coast and South Coast MPAs.
The updated monitoring plan will ensure that monitoring in the region evaluates MPA performance relative to the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act. It will also provide the scientific guidance to implement the next steps of MPA monitoring and inform the next term of the adaptive management cycle.
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How can I participate in the effort to update the Central Coast Ongoing MPA Monitoring Plan?
The Central Coast MPA Monitoring Plan will be updated through a collaborative process to ensure that it reflects the best available science, stakeholder priorities, and management information needs. Key process steps to provide opportunities to inform the updated plan are currently being planned for early 2014 and will include informal conversations, workshops, and/or meetings as appropriate.
The Program Partners will also seek to engage tribes and tribal communities to explore opportunities for MPA monitoring data and results to serve tribal stewardship goals as well as the state management of MPAs.
In early 2014, the Program Partners will employ an online survey tool to identify existing monitoring programs and their interest in contributing to ongoing monitoring. Based on the survey, California Ocean Science Trust and California Department of Fish and Wildlife will evaluate the contribution of existing programs to MPA monitoring needs and identify data gaps and resource needs to facilitate monitoring partnerships. BACK TO TOP
Will there be funding available for ongoing monitoring in the Central Coast?
The California Ocean Protection Council may consider authorizing new funds to support MPA monitoring for 1-2 years in the Central Coast. First, they and the Program Partners need to know the interests and existing monitoring programs in the region, so that the state can efficiently leverage any potentially authorized funds and draw in the wealth of capacity that exists in the region to contribute useful monitoring data.
The California Ocean Protection Council and California Ocean Science Trust are currently evaluating mechanisms to effectively and efficiently disburse new monitoring funds, should they be authorized. The new monitoring program is likely to be implemented using a combination of partnership agreements, grants, and a request for proposals. BACK TO TOP
When will data collection begin?
As guided by the Marine Life Protection Act Master Plan for MPAs, long-term monitoring in the Central Coast will ‘take the pulse’ of ocean ecosystems and address key management questions at selected sites inside and outside MPAs. Data collection is anticipated to begin in late 2014/early 2015. BACK TO TOP
What is the purpose of Central Coast baseline MPA monitoring?
The purpose of baseline MPA monitoring is to provide a benchmark against which future MPA performance can be measured, and a more thorough understanding of the condition of ocean ecosystems to help inform management decisions and guide on-going MPA monitoring. With support from the Ocean Protection Council, baseline data were collected from inside and outside MPAs in the Central Coast following their establishment in 2007. Results from baseline monitoring will allow us to understand the starting ecological and socioeconomic conditions - the benchmark – and to assess initial socioeconomic and ecological changes following MPA implementation. BACK TO TOP
How will findings from baseline MPA monitoring of the Central Coast be shared?
Now that data collection is complete, the Monitoring Enterprise is working closely with the Department of Fish and Game, Central Coast Baseline Program researchers and other partners to develop and communicate results from baseline projects. The data are now being analyzed and results will be available in early 2013. We envision sharing results in several ways, including summary and technical reports, a public symposium in February 2013, State of the California Central Coast, and online at www.OceanSpaces.org
. Findings will be shared in advance of a potential management review, anticipated to occur in 2013, in order to inform management decisions and to guide implementation of on-going MPA monitoring. BACK TO TOP
What is the State of the California Central Coast symposium?
This three-day public symposium offers participants an opportunity to learn about results from ecological and socioeconomic baseline MPA monitoring, share their own research findings, and discuss perspectives on MPA governance and enforcement with policy makers, resource managers, scientists, and stakeholders. The symposium will be held from February 27 to March 1, 2013, at the Marriott Hotel in Monterey. You can register on-line for this event and learn more about it by visiting www.StateoftheCACoast.org
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Will there be an opportunity for public comment at the symposium?
Although there will be many opportunities for discussions, the symposium is not designed as a forum for public comment. Following the symposium, management recommendations will be developed by the Department of Fish and Game and presented to the Fish and Game Commission in late 2013 as part of the management review process. It is anticipated that there will be opportunity for public comment during the management review process. A diagram outlining this process is available here
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Who is primarily responsible for planning the symposium?
The State of the California Central Coast is co-convened by the MPA Monitoring Enterprise, a program of the Ocean Science Trust, the California Department of Fish and Game, and the California Fish and Game Commission. Representatives from these organizations form a Steering Group
that meets twice monthly. In addition, a Symposium Committee has been established to provide recommendations to the Steering Group about how best to structure the symposium to achieve its objectives. Through its members’ associations, the Committee links the symposium to developments and opportunities in the wider world, strengthening its connections to and visibility within communities. You can read more about the convening organizations, Steering Group, and Symposium Committee here
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Who will be speaking at the symposium?
At the symposium, Central Coast MPA Baseline Program researchers and key partners will share findings from their projects that characterize the region at the time the MPAs were implemented, and describe any initial ecological and socioeconomic changes. In addition, research institutions, citizen scientists, agencies, and other groups will have an opportunity to share their work and help inform ocean resource management. Currently, abstracts from a number of individuals and groups are under independent review. A full list of speakers will be available in late November at www.StateoftheCACoast.org
. Finally, participants are invited to join in discussions with policy makers, resource managers and stakeholders as we reflect on the first five years of MPA management and enforcement. BACK TO TOP
What is the process for reviewing abstracts?
Following our Call for Abstracts, we received proposals for talks from citizen science organizations, academic researchers, and others with an interest in sharing their work and informing adaptive MPA management. An independent peer-review process, managed by the Monitoring Enterprise, California Department of Fish and Game, and California Fish and Game Committee (representatives form a ‘Steering Group’), is being used to review submitted abstracts. This is a three step process: 1) subject-matter experts independently review a selection of abstracts; 2) those experts meet as a panel to consider the full body of submissions in order to make recommendations to the Steering Group; and 3) final selections will be made by the Steering Group and announced in mid-November. A more detailed description of this process is publically available on www.StateoftheCACoast.org
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What is the cost of attending the symposium?
Registration for the symposium is $60.00, which includes all program materials, morning and afternoon coffee and snacks, and hors d’oeuvres at the opening night social reception. If you wish to request that your registration fee be waived, you may do so by writing to email@example.com
. Your request should include your name, affiliation and a short (100 words) description of the reason for the request. All requests must be received by November 20, 2012. Should your request be honored, you will be provided with a code you can use in the on-line registration form to waive the registration fee. BACK TO TOP
What is the purpose of the South Coast MPA Monitoring Plan?
On December 15, 2010, the Fish and Game Commission adopted a regional network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the South Coast region, which includes all state waters from Point Conception to the Mexico border. The South Coast MPA Monitoring Plan will provide a science-based framework and approach to guide monitoring of these MPAs.
The South Coast MPA Monitoring Plan is being designed to ensure MPA monitoring will meet the requirements of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which will include assessing the performance of the South Coast regional MPA network against the full range of MLPA goals and informing future MPA management decisions.
The South Coast MPA Monitoring Plan will not be a workplan or implementation plan for South Coast MPA monitoring, meaning that the plan will not, for example, specify which MPAs will be monitored and how often. Rather, the plan will provide a framework and guidance for making these decisions during implementation of monitoring. Monitoring will be implemented first through the South Coast MPA Baseline Program, and subsequently through implementation of long-term monitoring.
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How was the South Coast MPA Monitoring Plan developed?
The monitoring plan was developed using a consultative process. An initial round of public workshops to seek input on MPA monitoring priorities was held in July 2010, and attended by more than 120 participants. Following those workshops, numerous consultations were held with scientists and other technical experts in MPA monitoring and related fields, including fisheries and water quality monitoring, to identify the most effective MPA monitoring metrics and the best use of existing data and programs. Draft monitoring metrics were presented for public comment at a second round of workshops in November, 2010. A draft South Coast MPA Monitoring Plan was released for public comment from April 27 to May 27, 2011. We revised the plan in response to comments received, and presented it to the California Fish and Game Commission for their consideration at their meeting on June 29, 2011. The Commission will consider adopting the plan at their meeting in August. If adopted, the plan will be incorporated as an appendix to the MLPA Master Plan. For more information, please see our South Coast
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Will the MPA monitoring plan incorporate or build on monitoring currently being conducted in the South Coast region?
Yes. One of the purposes of monitoring planning is to determine what information is most important for monitoring to collect in order to most efficiently assess the effectiveness of the MPAs in meeting MLPA goals and to inform future MPA management decisions. Once it is clear what information is most important, monitoring planning also includes evaluating how that information may best be collected, and what existing data sets or monitoring programs can contribute to collecting or interpreting monitoring data.
In the South Coast region, there are many programs and activities that may contribute to MPA monitoring. These include monitoring conducted for the purposes of fisheries and water quality management, as well as monitoring of existing MPAs (such as in the Channel Islands). In addition, there are many existing datasets that may be useful for MPA monitoring purposes. The South Coast MPA Baseline Program prioritizes projects that will take advantage of existing data and partner with existing programs to meet Baseline Program purposes most efficiently.
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Is there funding to conduct MPA monitoring in the South Coast region?
Yes. The Ocean Protection Council has awarded $4 million to support initial monitoring of the newly designated South Coast marine protected areas (MPAs). The MPA Baseline Program projects
, which will collect information for up to three years, will target marine life and habitats, as well as commercial and recreational activities, inside and outside the protected areas in the South Coast region.
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What is the relationship between the South Coast MPA Monitoring Plan and the South Coast MPA Baseline Program?
Both the South Coast MPA Monitoring Plan and the South Coast MPA Baseline Program incorporate the MPA monitoring framework as applied to the South Coast region. Long-term monitoring will build on the foundation of information and knowledge to be developed through the Baseline Program, which will address the most time-sensitive aspects of MPA monitoring, specifically: (1) characterization of the ecology and socioeconomics of the South Coast region near the time of MPA implementation; and (2) measurement of initial changes after MPAs take effect. Findings from the Baseline Program will be used to refine the long-term monitoring metrics and inform implementation of long-term monitoring. The Baseline Program has been designed to be as broad and comprehensive as possible, in order to provide a good foundation for informing long-term monitoring and for contributing to the assessment of the regional South Coast MPA network in meeting MLPA goals. This means, for example, that the Baseline Program will not be limited only to the monitoring metrics currently under development for the South Coast region Monitoring Plan, but will collect information on those and many other metrics to provide comprehensive information. Ten projects were funded
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